Bernie Sanders wins city vote in Democratic primary

By Bridget Manley and Andrew Jenner

While the state of Virginia was called as soon as precincts closed for former Vice President Joe Biden, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders won the Harrisonburg vote in today’s Democratic primary, according to unofficial results tallied at the city registrar’s office.

Sanders, who was leading the delegate count heading into Super Tuesday, earned 2,590 of the 6,474 total votes cast. Biden finished second with 2,090 votes, while Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren finished third with 1,386 votes.

With turnout in Harrisonburg up nearly 50 percent compared to four years ago, Sanders won seven of the city’s nine precincts, while Biden won two.

Harrisonburg Democratic Committee Chair Alleyn Harned said after Tuesday night’s results were in that he was enthusiastic to move into the general election.

“I express deep gratitude for city and county Democrats and all voters who see 2020 as an important year together,” Harned said. “We are preparing to build change led by incredible individuals in the active presidential campaigns and supported by dedicated volunteers and we are excited to work together for progress in the fall.”

Biden wins by large margin in Rockingham County

According to unofficial results posted on the Rockingham County Registrar’s website, Biden won the county with 3,401 votes. Sanders finished second with 1,924 votes, while Warren was third with 1,022 votes. Bloomberg finished fourth with 445 votes.

A total of 7,095 votes were cast in the county.

Sanders’ margin of victory significantly less than 2016

In 2016, Sanders easily won the city vote in the Democratic primary despite losing the statewide vote to former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. Sanders won 2,914 of 4,411 votes, or 66 percent of the total – his second-highest margin of victory among all the state’s cities and counties.

Sanders also won Rockingham County in 2016, with 1,943 votes compared to Clinton’s 1,735.

According to unofficial election results, Harrisonburg was just one of three Virginia localities where Sanders won in this year’s primary, along with Charlottesville and Floyd County.

Harned expressed hopeful optimism that the party would unite under one candidate in the general election, saying “this is one more exciting area where it shows we need as Democrats to work together in the fall to connect with all of our coalition.”

Voter turnout in Harrisonburg for the Democratic primary rose from 4,411 in 2016 to 6,474 this year. In Rockingham County, turnout rose from 3,693 to 7,095. 

Harned called the increased primary turnout thrilling, and said he believes that enthusiasm will carry Democrats into victory in the November general election.

“It’s good to be making such great strides in the city and I am also grateful that there is marked progress in the county,” Harned said.

Harrisonburg precincts received a steady stream of voters all day, with some saying that they were still thinking about whom to vote for up to Super Tuesday.

Joe and Mary, voters at the Stone Spring Elementary School polling location who asked not to use their last names, said that it was incredibly important for them to vote in the primary, noting they are concerned about having the right candidate to compete with Republicans in the general election.

“We waited until the herd thinned out a little bit,” Joe said. “We discussed it this morning, some of the pros and cons of the two or three candidates we both liked.”

They didn’t want to say who they voted for, saying, “we will find out [Wednesday] if it was the right vote or not.”

Trevor, who also asked not to use his last name, was also voting at Stone Spring Elementary Tuesday as well. He said he consistently wavered between Sanders and Warren until a few days ago.

He decided to vote for Sanders, saying affordable healthcare was his top issue moving into the general election.

“Healthcare is an important issue for me…as a society we need a better healthcare system for all of us,” Trevor said.

He hopes the results in Virginia and the rest of the states who voted in Super Tuesday can move the Democratic party in the direction of a candidate that voters can “get behind them and just fully invest in a candidate.”

There were fourteen candidates on the ballot, even though nine had dropped out of the race prior to Super Tuesday. Gabbard, the other candidate still in the race, won 50 votes. Amy Klobuchar, Pete Buttigieg and Tom Steyer, all of whom dropped out of the race just prior to Super Tuesday, received 37, 40, and 6 votes respectively.

Virginia was one of the bigger prizes of Super Tuesday – the state has 99 delegates at stake, fourth most that day after California (415), Texas (228) and North Carolina (110). 

The Republican Party did not have a primary and instead will formally select the nominee at a statewide convention later this spring.    

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